Vote prep OK in Ivory Coast, U.N. says

Oct. 20, 2010 at 1:20 PM

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Early preparations for a long-delayed presidential vote in the Ivory Coast went off without a hitch, a U.N. special envoy said from the coastal city of Abidjan.

Campaign season is under way in the Ivory Coast in preparation for an Oct. 31 vote. Ongoing civil conflict thwarted several attempts to have presidential elections in the Ivory Coast, which was divided in 2002 between the rebel-held north and the government-controlled south.

The U.N. Security Council approved the deployment of 500 peacekeepers as the country gears up for another attempt at the end of the month.

Choi Young-jin, the U.N. special envoy to the Ivory Coast, said early preparations were going according to plans.

"We are happy to have virtually completed the major and sensitive challenge of delivering (identity and voter) cards," he was quoted by the United Nations' news service as stating.

Choi last this week called on the international community to send in election observers as election preparations get under way.

Jean-Marie Kacou Gervais, the foreign affairs minister for the Ivory Coast, told delegates at the U.N. General Assembly in September that his country was moving forward with the determination to have free and transparent elections to show the international community his country has embraced peace.

Elections will go to a second round in November if no clear winner emerges next weekend.

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